After twelve years of being in my abusive marriage; I stood up to my husband and abuser one last time. Hours another abusive incident, I drank a glass of wine to build up the courage I needed. I told him again, that I couldn’t live like that anymore. I found myself repeating that like a mantra the day I filed for Divorce. My husband was obsessive, controlling and physically and verbally abusive to me, and to our 5 children. I had left before, even hid from him, but as soon as school started wherever we were, he’d find us. I turned him in for Child Abuse, only for him to get a slap on the wrist. I turned him in for Domestic abuse, and was told I needed to leave our home. The state we lived in was not a Community Property state, and that limited my rights as his wife because I was not on the mortgage.
That day in September was cool and rainy; He called over and over until I broke down and finally answered. First he begged to talk to me one last time about the divorce, just to settle things. I told him that there was nothing left to talk about; I had filed a restraining order.
An hour later he pulled into the driveway. He promised me he would change; he’d get help, and never hit me again. I knew the routine, so I braced myself and told him this was all said and done before. Then, like a Summer Rainstorm with the heat rising from the ground; He lunged at me, and told me that he refused to live without me. He threatened that I will not belong to anyone else. He pushed me against the door and said: “His children will not know another man, and call him Dad”. He shoved me again, and told me “this was my last act of defiance”. And then he left without another word. I watched him from the bedroom window, and thought to myself: That was too easy.
I went back to folding laundry, when I saw His company truck pull into the driveway. A feeling of dread and nausea washed over me, then I saw he had something that looked like a gun in his hand. Remembering his threats of “ Death do us part, and knowing what he was capable of, I ran. As he came into the house through the garage, I ran out the front door. I got into the Family car, and quickly drove away. I did not know where I was going to go. I was driving down back roads, and avoiding the freeway. I stopped, in the middle of a dirt road, to think. Took a deep breath and fished my cell phone out of my purse. I dialed 911. The operator asked me for my location; 2 cross roads, and sent an Officer out to find me.
Those were the longest 15 minutes, as I waited in the car counting the revolution of the windshield wipers. I hadn’t noticed the rain, or that I had turned them until then.
The local Police Department knew me fairly well, after 13 restraining orders in the same county they start to recognize a name or face. The officer asked me what happened, and told me that he will go by the house do a welfare check on him. That I should go pick the kids up from school myself. So as I drove I called the children’s Schools and tried my best to not break down. The Secretary of the elementary school knew something was wrong, and put the principal on the line. I asked him to please not let my husband pick the kids up from school, that I was on my way. Without missing a beat he said:” He will have to go through me to get to them.” I picked my older children from their school and made my way to the Elementary school. The Principal was waiting with my 3 younger students in his office. He didn’t ask me questions, he just smiled and told my kids to have a good day, and he’d see them soon. He politely handed me a business card for Lacassa. (A women’s and children’s advocacy center and shelter in our county that aids victims of Domestic Violence)
Driving made it easier to act as normal as possible in front of the kids. But they were more aware than I was comfortable with. My cell phone kept ringing but I refused to answer. Until my teenage son told me, this time it was my Niece calling. When I answered; She asked me directly what was going on. I told her he knows I filed for a divorce, without taking another breath she said:” I’m on my way, we will get a hotel and hide like last time.” So we set a place to meet, and she drove 2 hours from college to be with me.
I arrived at Lacassa and the counselor there helped me file an amendment to the existing restraining order to keep him from taking the kids out of school.
She informed me that due to the time it was it would not be signed until the next morning. She told me to not go home; but somewhere he wouldn’t find me. He called me ten minutes later, from an unknown number asking me where I was, and if I had the kids with me? I told him: ” I know where I am, where are you?” He didn’t answer, He asked me:” Why are the Police looking for me, I didn’t do anything wrong…yet” I hung up and turned my ringer off.
I drove to another town, and met my niece at a Holiday Inn as we had planned. We booked two rooms, under my Niece’s name and ordered pizzas for the kids for dinner. The kids knew why we were at a hotel on a school night. They didn’t ask questions and I didn’t know what to tell them. We had pizza and went over homework and I tried to act as calm and normal as possible.
The next morning, I got the kids up early to have breakfast in the lobby of the hotel. I hadn’t slept, and was trying to not look over my shoulder, and cause them to fear. A strange funeral home commercial came on the Lobby television, with obnoxious, celebratory music, and my stomach turned over.
After checking out, we drove the hour to the County Court house to pick up the signed restraining order. The clerk explained to me that I can take the kids by the house, that there was an officer there, and then I can take them to school; that the restraining order would give the district a legal way to keep the kids from my husband. So I did as she suggested, to keep things as Normal as possible.
The house was quiet, unlocked and very much as it was when I left. I told the kids get ready for school and then dropped them and copies of the order off at the schools.
I spent the rest of that afternoon with my Niece at Home depot buying new locks and large boards to put behind sliding glass doors. I called my younger sister and her husband offered to help change the dead bolts, told me what drill bit I needed and they met us at the house.
In the middle of drilling a new hole in the Metal door, a large man walked up to the house, asking for me. He asked me to step outside with him, and then preceded to blur my mind with his detective’s badge and questions about when I had last seen my husband. I explained to the Detective that I had run away from my husband the day before because I felt threatened, and that I had called the county police about the incident. He then told me that a restaurant worker found my deceased husband at closing. The world started spinning faster, and I broke down. My Sister and Niece heard me and came outside to see what was going on, and then called my Brother, and Mother.
My Brother only lived a few minutes away and came immediately, when he arrived the Detective told him that if I hadn’t had the instincts to run, that he believed that my husband would have taken the entire family. He went on to say, that typically when someone is intent on ending their own lives they only buy enough bullets for themselves. My husband bought 2 full clips and a semi automatic. They found him in his work truck in a neighboring county, behind a restaurant and bar. My Older Sister picked up my children from school that day, and took them home to her house so that I could calm down, and figure out how to tell them about their father.
My family knew the children and I were being abused, they knew how many times I had left, and just how many frustrating times I gave into the fear, into him and went home. My family knew that I had reported the abuse, only to have to face my abuser again after court.
My friends were aware things weren’t right at home, but being a friend to someone who is being abused is often difficult and frustrating. I over heard someone say the day before the Funeral, ” I knew he was crazy, but I didn’t think he was that crazy”
I never wished for my husband to end his life, I actually never believed he would. However, I believed he would end mine, believed him enough to fear him, and go back over and over again. Believed him enough to endure the abuse, both physical and verbal. Believed him enough to grab my kids and Run, because living with him was killing me slowly. My husband was cremated and put to rest, Sept 28th of 2010.
The day that changed my life was Sept 22nd, 2010, the day that I refused to give in to the fear. The day that I trusted myself, and told my Husband, father of my children, Our Abuser that was the LAST TIME.